Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 Healthy Christmas Cookie Recipes

Who says eating Christmas cookies can't be delicious, fun AND good for you! Elana Amsterdam, one of my favorite Gluten-free chefs has prepared a list of cookies that meet all the qualities mentioned in the previous sentence. Whether it is her vegan chocolate chip cookies or her gingerbread men, Elana has got the market cornered on Christmas cookies that taste good and wont make you feel like you have to spend a month straight in the gym. To see all her delicious cookie recipes visit her fabulous website: Elana's Pantry

I have personally tried the Vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe and, whenever I make them, I end up having to fight my non-gluten-free husband for the last one. Don't take my word for it though, try them yourself and let me know what you think!
Below I have posted a picture of her mouthwatering Pecan shortbread cookies! Best part about them? They are quick and high in protein!


Pecan Shortbread Cookies

  • 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 5 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and pecans
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together agave, butter and vanilla
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
  4. Place dough in the center of a large piece of parchment paper and form into a large log approximately 2½ inches in diameter
  5. Place in freezer for one hour, until firm, unwrap and cut into ⅛ inch thick slices
  6. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet
  7. Bake at 350° until lightly golden, 7-10 minutes
  8. Cool and serve
Makes 24 cookies

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Special Olympics Polar Plunge

Come out and watch Mrs. Alaska Take the Plunge for Special Olympics Alaska! The Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Alaska is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations, and businesses to support Special Olympics Alaska athletes by gathering pledges and plunging into the icy waters of Goose Lake in Anchorage. Mrs. Alaska will be proudly jumping with her team, the St. Elias Prom Plungers! 

To donate to her and her team, please visit

Date:  Saturday, December 17, 2011
Location:  Goose Lake, Anchorage Alaska
Time:  10am-3pm
Parking & Shuttle:  There will be no parking at Goose Lake unless previously arranged.  A shuttle will be provided by UAA and Premier Alaska Tours from 8:30am-4:00pm.  It will run as a round robin, so wait time should be minimal, but dress for the weather and for warmth AFTER your plunge.

Friday, December 9, 2011

No December Gluten-free Support group meeting

I just wanted to remind everyone that there will be NO December Gluten-free Support Group meeting. 

I look forward to seeing everyone for the next meeting, Jan 19th, 2012. Same time and same location as usual.

See you in the new year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Product of the Month

In my everyday life, I work at a hospital. I am a nurse by trade but, regardless of your position, the hospital seems to be a work environment that is dominated by females. Having said this, there always seems to be a lot of flowers, cookies, cards and cakes that float around the break rooms. Whether we are celebrating someone's pregnancy, anniversary, birthday, or simply expressing gratitude, there always seems to be some fun food item around. Having a food allergy can sometimes limit your interaction in these celebrations. However, I am delighted to share with you a company that helps eliminate some of the boundaries. Heidi's Gluten-free Greatness is a business dedicated to providing the public with delicious, fresh-baked, gluten-free products. Heidi's bakery specializes in making many wonderful items, however, it is her cookie bouquets that have won over our taste buds for our product of the month!Heidi Dean is a graduate of New York University and holds an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition. She also makes a fabulous assortment of other bakes goods such as brownies, breads, cakes, and cupcakes. However, when it comes to celebrations and feeling special, what could be better than a gluten-free cookie bouquet?! Please check out Heidi's website and keep her in mind the next time you or a gluten-free loved one has a special celebration coming up!

Click here to "like" Heidi's Gluten-free Greatness on Facebook!

Heidi Dean is a graduate of New York University and holds an M.S. in Holistic Nutrition. She is a certified holistic health practitioner by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, a certified kids nutrition specialist, and a certified sports nutritionist by the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT). She has a private family nutrition practice in New York. Heidi is the owner of Heidi's Gluten-Free Greatness, a business dedicated to providing the public with delicious, fresh-baked gluten-free products.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Recipe of the month

When I went to NJY camp Pennsylvania for their first ever gluten-free family weekend, I was honored to meet several people who are passionate about helping others with Celiac Disease and those who require a gluten-free diet. Nicole Hunn, author of Gluten-free on a Shoestring, was one of those people. Eating gluten-free can be an expensive endeavor but Nicole has figured out how to make gluten-free living affordable and fun! She had a wonderful sense of humor and her cooking tasted amazing! So, for the recipe of the month, I have decided that I should feature her scrumptious gluten-free GINGERBREAD COOKIES! These are definitely perfect for this time of year and can make for a fun-filled evening with your family.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Cut-Out Gingerbread Cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, brown sugar and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add molasses, honey and vanilla, and mix to combine as best you can (it will be lumpy). Add the shortening, and mix again as best you can (lumpier still).
  3. Add the water, and mix until smooth. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick, no thinner (see photo). Place in the freezer to chill until firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Flour your cookie cutter (see photo), and cut out shapes. Peel back the surrounding dough (see photo), and place the cutouts evenly spaced on rimmed baking sheets. Gather and re-roll scraps, chill and cut out again.
  5. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just lifting off the pan easily (longer for crisp cookies). Remove from the oven and cool completely before decorating.
Makes about 30 cookies, depending upon thickness of dough and size of cookie cutter.
For more ideas and inspirations like this, visit

Monday, November 28, 2011

Update on the Gluten-free oats offer

Do you remember the post below? One of my support group members asked if the focus group was still open and even though it is not, Debbie sent me an update! The responses to the new oats is 98% positive and the landing page for their new site is up too: It is still under-construction, but getting there. However, its exciting to know that their is another option out there for those who need a GF diet and still have issues with GF oats.
Can you tolerate gluten-free oats? It’s estimated that 4-8% of gluten-free consumers cannot tolerate gluten-free oats. My friend, Debbie Wheaton of the Not Even a Crumb™ Foundation, found a company in Montana (Montana Gluten-Free Processors) that grows, harvests, mills and packages a different species of GF oats that are very low on the allergen scale (and consistently test out at 1 ppm). She started eating them a month ago - with NO issues. The company is getting similar testimonials from around the country. They, (Montana Gluten-Free Processors) have asked Debbie to facilitate a nationwide focus group to determine if this is truly the Holy Grail of gluten-free oats.
If you or anyone in your group has had issues with gluten-free oats, I would love them to be a part of this focus group. The Processors will send free product and specific protocols for the group and they’ll also do a huge giveaway at the end. Check out their site to see their entire line of amazing GF mixes

Monday, November 21, 2011

A note about Conte Pasta

John Libonati from sent this message to one of my fabulous support group members, Theresa. She passed it along to me and I thought I would share! See below:

Hey All!

I just got off the phone with Judy Sabella, Conte’s Pasta’s VP of Operations. She told me Conte’s gluten-free pastas and microwave meals are now made in their new 100% dedicated gluten-free, SOLAR-powered facility. Their products taste awesome and yes, I will be enjoying them for Thanksgiving. :)

Frozen Pastas:

Cheese Raviol, Cheese Stuffed Shells, Spinach & Cheese Ravioli, Potato & Onion Pierogi (GFCF), Potato, Cheese & Onion Pierogi, Gnocchi (GFCF), Mushroom Florentine Pizza, Margherita Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil

Microwave Meals:

Cheese Lasagna, Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce, Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce (GFCF)

Conte’s pastas, pizzas and pasta micro meals are certified gluten-free through the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Visit Conte’s website for more information and to find retailers in your area.

You can also call as the list may not be up to date - call Toll free: 1-800-211-6607

Happy Thanksgiving!

-John Libonati

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CDF Anchorage Gluten-free Support Group Meeting

Please join me this Thursday, November 17th, for the Anchorage Gluten-Free Support Group from 6-8pm at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Hwy. Enjoy Life Foods has graciously offered to send us samples for the meeting!! 
See you there!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bistro Red Beet

Recently one of my support group members stopped by Bistro Red Beet in Wasilla.Red Beet specializes in fresh Northern Fare. Their meals are prepared from exclusively from fresh resources specifically Alaskan produce and Alaskan wild harvest with a little bit of fresh fare from around the globe added in their goal is to provide a wide variety of fresh foods that are pesticide free, herbicide free and organic. Their menu does change with the seasons but they offer gluten-free options all year round! They also offer catering and private dinning to maximize your experience with their menu items.
My support group member did mention that some of the food choices were odd but she thought the potatoes were awesome and she would recommend the meat sandwich with potatoes. If you are not used to organic and an earthy fare you may feel the same way. She did however, really enjoy the beet and raspberry smoothie and said that it could become "addicting"! She was also of the opinion that the price may be a little steep for some but, for a gluten-free meal sans cooking, it may be worth it once in a while. If you have tried this place, I would love your opinion as well.
For more information visit

Sunday, November 6, 2011

National Kidney Foundation Screening

The National Kidney foundation has a program called Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) which is a free screening program offered for individuals who may be at risk for kidney disease. It is a great way to for people to figure out their risk factors and get counseling on how o avoid problems in the future. Their goals are to raise awareness about kidney disease especially among “high risk” individuals, provide free testing for people at increased risk for kidney disease, encourage people “at risk” to visit a clinician, and follow the treatment plan recommended. They also provide educational information so these “at risk” individuals can prevent or delay kidney damage, provide clinician referrals for follow-up care, if needed, and provide ongoing information and support. Prevention is always more cost effective than treatment and the National Kidney Foundation does a great job at increasing awareness in the community. So, of course, I was eager to help and participate in this screening when they contacted me!
In my work life, I am a board-certified Nurse Practitioner. So I was able to help support the KEEP goals by providing education to each individual after they had completed the screening process. There were 6 stations at the screening. Station #1 was a urine screen, #2 a blood pressure evaluation, #3 waist measurement, #4 blood draw, and #5 was where I sat with the other clinicians who volunteered their time. It was wonderful to meet all the participants and talk to them about why they visited the clinic that day. It was also wonderful to be able to provide medical support free of charge to people who could not afford it otherwise. At the end of the day, we were able to screen 159 people. Of those, 64 learned they may have a new problem such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, or high cholesterol. Those people could now make small adjustments in their lifestyle to decrease their risk factors and live a longer, healthier quality of life! I am honored to have been invited to participate in this worthy cause!
Being a nurse is a rewarding profession. It gives a person the chance to give back, but in doing so, you gain more than you could possibly imagine in return.

November Recipe of the Month

Ever since I was a little girl, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I think I have always preferred it because that was the holiday when all the family was together. Christmas was always hit or miss when it came to gathering everyone together but Thanksgiving always seemed to be just right. I am not sure how 27 people always fit in my grandma's kitchen but somehow we made it happen. Not only did we fit but we feasted! We feasted for what seemed like hours. Everyone told stories and laughter filled the room. Then, depending on how much turkey we ate, we all laid around the living room and napped.
Now that I am married, I have had to learn to start cooking, my favorite dish to cook for Thanksgiving has been green bean casserole. Below is a recipe I adapted Martha Stewart.


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance non-dairy, non-soy)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and slim slices
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut (I used fresh not canned)
  • 6 tablespoons of Bob's Red Mill All-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use Manchego since I am allergic to dairy)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I toast bread and crush it for a quick version)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. (not necessary if using canned green beans) Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with mushroom mixture; set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine.
  4. Butter or grease a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated cheese, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until just before serving.
  5. This is my favorite part - Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. *Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place in an airtight container, and set aside until ready to serve.
  6. Heat broiler, positioning rack about 8 inches from heat. Cook casserole, covered, until mixture is bubbly and heated through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook until top is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle fried shallots over top, and serve immediately.
*I had to double the shallot amount because my dad and husband sneak behind me and eat a few when I am not looking

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gluten-free Awards

Have you ever found yourself thinking that you wish there were awards to recognize people and products in the gluten-free world? Well, your wish has now come true!  The 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Awards from the producers of GFREEK radio have arrived! The nominations have been made and the finalists are now listed on their website. Voting is simple. Just visit their website at and scroll to the bottom to find a link says "Vote now for the 2nd Annual Gluten Free Awards". You will automatically be taken to the survey where you can cast your votes! Simple, easy, FUN!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Product of the Month

I think one of the hardest things about being gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free is finding baked goods that don't taste dry, grainy, or like they are going to fall apart with the first fork placement. As I was strolling in the grocery store the other day (actually, I was wandering and my husband was doing the shopping) I literally almost ran into a fridge full of French Meadow gluten-free goods! (Seriously, though, I cut the corner too quick and almost hit my shoulder on the edge.) The first the that caught my eye was the gluten-free tortillas because I need more if I am going to make more sweet potato and black bean burritos. However, as it dawned on me that the whole refrigerator was gluten-free a little tiny box caught my eye. I had to stand on my tiptoes to see what was inside but it was worth the effort.

It was the cutest little cake! Not only was it gluten-free but it was dairy and soy-free too! The best part? It came with a coupon!

As soon as we returned home, I was very tempted to have my dessert first and my dinner afterward, however, my husband  made sure that I dined in the right order. The serving size is 1/3 of the cake and with good reason, it contains a lot of fat, so be aware of that fact. The cake did not crumble and the icing was soft. The first bite was amazing and it only got better from there! The bread portion was soft, not too heavy, and tasted just right! I am thrilled to know that for special occasions (or maybe times when I crave a slice of cake) I have a tasty new option!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Willy O's Gluten-free Pizza

Willy Olund has made it his passion to develop great tasting pizza. He used to give his siblings pizzas for Christmas gifts, however, when they became allergic to the majority of the grains he used, he had to figure out a way to make a different type of crust. His wife, Carla, who owns their store Willy O's Pizza and Grille in South Haven, MI, decided to open Willy O's Gluten-free products (a dedicated gluten-free USDA facility) in Holland, MI. With her help, Willy was able to produce a fabulous gluten-free pizza! So fabulous, in fact, that the gluten-free version has won several international awards. In 2010, The International Pizza Challenge held in Las Vegas voted his pizza number #1 in the United States and #2 Internationally and the Trofeo 2 Mari in Lecce, Italy voted his pizza #1 in America and he received the highest scores by any American as well.

The best part about Willy O's pizza? Even if you are not close to their store in South Haven, Michigan, Willy is happy to ship you some pizza! He even sent me a few in Alaska! They arrived looking perfect and they tested even better!

For more information about Willy and his amazing pizza check out

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Safe (and gluten-free) Halloween Candy

Gluten–Free Halloween Candy and Treats

3 Musketeers fun size
3 Musketeers Mint with dark chocolate

Act II Popcorn Balls
Almond Joy fun size bars
Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit snacks
Applehead, Grapehead, Cherryhead

Baby Ruth original and fun size
Bazooka Big Mix (includes bubble gum, bubble gum filled candy, candy chews, and bubble gum filled lollipops)
Betty Crocker Fruit by the Foot Wicked Webs Berry Wave mini feet
Betty Crocker Halloween fruit flavored snacks, including Fruit Gushers, Fruit Roll–ups, and Mini Rolls
Butterfinger original and fun size
Big Blow bubblegum
Black Forest Gummy Tarantulas
Black Forest Gummy Fun Bugs Juicy Oozers

Caramel Apple Pops - made by Tootsie Roll
Charleston Chew original and fun size
Charms Blow Pops and Blow Pop Minis (may contain milk or soy)
Charms Candy Carnival Package  – Blow Pops, Sugar Babies, Zip a Dee mini pops, Sugar Daddy, Pops, Sugar Mama Caramel, Tear Jerkers sour bubble gum, Blow Pop Bubble Gum (may contain milk or soy)
Charms Fluffy Stuff Spider Web cotton candy
Chewy Atomic Fireballs
Chewy Lemonheads and Friends
Comix Mix Candy Sticks – Tom and Jerry, Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Popeye
Cracker Jack caramel coated popcorn and peanuts

Dove pieces – Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate, Caramel Milk Chocolate
Dots Gumdrops – including Candy Corn Dots, Ghost Dots, and Bat Dots
Dubble Bubble bubblegum – may include milk or soy
Dum Dum Lollipops - including Shrek Pops (no peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat or gluten. Manufactured on dedicated equipment.)
Dum Dum Chewy Pops (no peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat or gluten. Manufactured on dedicated equipment)

Farley’s Kiddie Mix - Smarties, SweetTarts, Now and Later, Jaw Breakers, Super Bubble and Lolli-pops
Ferrara Pan Caramels (may contain milk or soy. Distributed in a facility where peanuts and tree nuts are used to make other products)
Ferrara Pan Lemonhead & Friends candy mix – including Applehead, Cherryhead,  Grapehead, Chewy Lemonhead & Friends, Chewy Atomic Fireball, and Red Hots
Florida’s Natural Healthy Treats Nuggets, Sour String, Fruit Stiks
Fright Fingers Popcorn Kit
Fun Dip
Fun Dip Sour

Heath milk chocolate English toffee bar and snack size (does contain almonds)
Hershey’s Bliss - Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Milk Chocolate with Meltaway Center, White Chocolate with Meltaway Center, Milk Chocolate with Raspberry Meltaway Center, Dark Chocolate
Hershey’s Kisses - Candy Corn flavored candy, Caramel, Caramel Apple flavored filling, Milk Chocolate, Chocolate Meltaway, Pumpkin Spice, Hugs, Hugs & Kisses, Cherry Cordial Creme, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Special Dark
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars and snack-size bars
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds snack-size bars
Hot Tamales (dairy-free too)

Jelly Belly beans (dairy–free too)
Jolly Rancher hard candy and Doubles Candy
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy Stix, Lollipops and Fruit Chews
Jr. Mints fun size (may contain eggs)
Jujifruits (dairy-free too)
Just Born marshmallow treats

Kellogg’s Spongebob Squarepants fruit flavored snacks

LifeSavers Gummies including Big Ring Gummies, Sweet ‘n’ Sour, and Scary Assortment

M&M’s (original, peanut, peanut butter)
Mars M&M's – except pretzel M&M's
Mars Dove chocolate products
Mars Munch Nut bar
Mars Snickers, Snickers Dark bars, fun size and mini’s (may contain almonds)
Mallo Cup
Marvel Heroes Candy Sticks (Hulk, Spiderman, Wolverine)
Melster Peanut Butter Kisses
Milk Duds
Mike and Ike
Mini Mentos
Mini Sour Dudes Straws
Mounds dark chocolate fun size bars (made on equipment that processes almonds, in a facility that processes peanuts)
Mr. Goodbar  (does contain peanuts)

Necco’s Sky Bar 4 in 1 chocolate bar
Necco Wafers
Necco Mary Janes
Necco Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses (does contain peanuts)
Necco Canada Mint & Wintergreen Lozenges
Necco Haviland Thin Mints and Candy Stix
Necco Clark Bars
Necco Skybars
Necco Haviland Peppermint & Wintergreen Patties
Necco Candy Eggs
Necco Ultramints
Nestle Milk Chocolate fun size bars
Nestle Baby Ruth
Nestle Bit–O–Honey
Nestle Butterfinger - NOT Butterfinger Crisp or Butterfinger Stixx
Nestle Goobers (does contain peanuts)
Nestle Nips (both regular and sugar–free)
Nestle Oh Henry!
Nestle Raisinets (made on equipment that processes peanuts)
Nestle Sno–Caps
Nestle Wonka Pixy Stix
Nestle Wonka Laffy Taffy
Nestle Wonka Lik–M–Aid Fun Dip
Nestle Wonka Spree
Nik-L-Nip wax bottles with juice
Now and Later

Palmer Peanut Butter Cups (does contain peanuts)
Pay Day peanut caramel bar snack size
Peanut M&M’s
Pearson’s Bun candy –  maple and roasted peanuts
Pearson’s Mint Patties,
Pez candy – “Gluten Free”
Pop Rocks
Pixie Stix

Rain Blo Bubble Gum Eyes of Terror
Razzles candy gum
Red Hots
Reese’s Fast Break candy bars and snack size
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups snack size and miniatures
Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins
Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s Select Peanut Butter Cremes
Reese’s Select Clusters
Reese’s Whipps
Rolo chocolate covered caramels

Skeleton Pops (lollipops)
Skittles includes Original, Sour, Wild Berry, Fizzl’d Fruits, and Crazy Core, including fun-size
Smarties - the small pastel–colored candies sold in rolls, not Nestle’s chocolate version (Contains NO: gluten, milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, or soy)
Snickers Fudge bar
Sour Patch
Starburst Fruit Chews and fun-size
Starburst Gummibursts and Sour Gummibursts – “Gluten Free”
Sugar Babies
Sugar Daddy Caramel Pops
Super Bubble bubble gum
Swedish Fish
Sweethearts conversation hearts Forbidden Fruits (candy packaging of The Twilight Saga, New Moon the movie)
Sweet’s Candy Corn Taffy

Tootsie Pops – original and mini
Tootsie Rolls Midgies and snack bars

Warheads – Extreme Sour hard candy and Sour QBZ chewy cubes
Wonka Bottlecaps
Wonka Chocolate Laffy Taffy
Wonka Giant Chewy Nerds Jelly Beans
Wonka Giant Pixy Stix
Wonka Gobstopper Everlasting
Wonka Gobstopper Chewy
Wonka Laffy Taffy Ropes
Wonka Mix–Ups
Wonka Monster Mix–Ups – SweetTarts Skulls and Bones, Spooky Nerds, Howlin’ Laffy Taffy
Wonka Nerds (carry a cross contamination warning on the Spooky Nerds orange and fruit punch flavors)
Wonka Pixy Stix
Wonka Runts
Wonka Runts Chewy
Wonka SweetTarts
Wonka Sweetarts (regular)
Wonka Sweetarts Chew
Wonka Sweetarts Giant Chewy
Wonka Sweetarts Mini Chew
Wonka Sweetarts Chewy Twists
Wonka Sweetarts Shockers
Wonka Tart N Tinys,
Wonka Tart N Tinys Chew
Wonka SweetTarts Boo Bag Mix (SweetTart Chews OK, but other packages had a cross–contamination warning!)

York Peppermint Patties Pumpkins
With all these selections, finding some good, gluten–free candy should be a snap. As always, be sure to read labels, as some ingredients can vary. 

Airheads Xtremes Rolls contains wheat flour
Rocky Road – contains barley malt and wheat flour
All Brach's candy should be considered NOT gluten–free
Kit Kat – contains wheat
Reese's Minis
Twizzlers – contains wheat
Whoppers –  contains barley malt and wheat flour
Milky Way –  contains barley malt
Twix –  contains wheat
Butterfinger Crisp or Butterfinger Stixx  –  contains wheat flour
Crunch –  contains barley malt, “made on equipment that also processes wheat.”
Hundred Grand Bar –  contains barley malt, “made on equipment that also processes wheat.”
Wonka Oompas and the Wonka Bar are NOT gluten–free.
RUSSELL STOVER'S – Products have been produced on shared equipment with peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and wheat.
Sweetarts Gummy Bugs –  contains wheat/gluten
Sweetarts Rope –  contains wheat/gluten
Wonka Bar

A more comprehensive list of unsafe candies for Halloween can be found at
Here is a partial list of major candy manufacturers and how to contact them:
Hershey's – 800–468–1714
Jelly Belly – 800–522–3267
Just Born – 888–645–3453
Mars Chocolate – 800–627–7852
Necco – 781–485–4800
Nestle USA – 800–225–2270
Pearson's – 800–328–6507
Tootsie Roll – 773–838–3400

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WebMD Slideshow on Celiac Disease

This is a really great visual guide to help people understand the basics of Celiac Disease. If you, or a loved one, has any questions this is a really good place to start. I am a visual learner so I can appreciate the way this guide instructs its viewers.


A Visual Guide to Celiac Disease:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gluten-free Living Now Expo Carmel, Indiana

This past month, I was honored to participate in the Gluten-Free Living Now Expo in Carmel, Indiana. Gluten Free Living Now, Ltd. is the work of a gluten intolerant nurse, Shelia, and a mother of a Celiac child, Tina. They shared similar struggles and challenges and from these trials a passion was created. These two women came together to build a non-profit organization with a mission to build, support, and enhance the gluten-free community.  This passion led to an organization that provides lifestyle advice, food for low income families in need for gluten-free items, educational resources and a future goal of a gluten-free camp for kids! This Expo was an accumulation of all their work since the inception of their organization and it was the largest gluten-free event in Indiana to date!
 I had an amazing time speaking with all those who visited! I even had the opportunity to use that expensive master's degree in nursing I paid for and give lectures. One was "How to Make Your Household Gluten-free" and the other was "Autoimmune Diseases and Other Conditions Associated with Celiac Disease". 

I had a blast meeting everyone and I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with the amazing people from the Center for Celiac Research. They let me hang with them at their table and I was honored. Their group and their lead physician, Dr. Fasano, have done more in the field of Celiac Disease than any other organization. Dr. Fasano and his team were the ones who discovered the blood test for gluten testing (among many other amazing things)! Currently they are partnering with the Autistic research community to see how a gluten-free and casein-free diet would help children affected with the disorder.
Dr. Fasano during one of his lectures at the Expo
I also was lucky enough to watch him interview at Channel 8 as well! He has a great team surrounding him and I was blessed to have the opportunity to tag along with them! For more information on their great work visit
Dr. Fasano speaking on the connection between Celiac Disease and Autism
 I was also to meet a few amazing women who are heroes in their own right in the gluten-free world. Ann Whelan, creator and editor of the first Gluten-free magazine, Gluten-free Living Magazine. Ann, was diagnosed with Celiac disease 18 years ago. She received a Master's in journalism from Temple University and a BA in English literature from Hunter College. Ann brings together her first-hand knowledge of Celiac disease and extensive experience in journalism and publishing. She has worked for health-related magazines, helping to launch five publications before she founded Gluten-Free Living. Ann's magazine was the first one I found when I was diagnosed and it is people like her who have already created an easier path to travel in dealing with Celiac Disease. Gluten-Free Living Magazine is a leader in providing practical, reliable information about the gluten-free diet.
Ann Whelan and Chef Rob talking at the Expo
I was also honored to meet Sueson Vess. Sueson has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and  has other food allergies as well. She created her company, Special Eats to assist others on the healthy path toward embracing gluten and dairy free living.  She is an amazing cook and has many cookbooks that she has worked on to ease the struggle of those dealing with multiple food intolerances. Sueson was kind enough to offer me a copy of her fabulous book, Gluten-free and Dairy-free Cooking.
 My favorite part of the whole experience though? The amazing memories I will cherish as I continue to raise awareness for Celiac Disease!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Product of the month

After coming back from the Gluten-free Living Now Expo in Carmel, Indiana, I couldn't get this one product off my mind - or out of my mouth! Deborah Kaye's vendor at the Expo was kind enough to give me a box of her cookies. They looked like granola bars in a round shape but they taste so much better than any granola bar I have every tasted! Not only are they gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free but they are free of refined sugars. Each cookie is handmade, without flour, and only organic ingredients are used. The recipe has been in Deborah Kaye's family for three generations.
There are three flavors to choose from: oatmeal walnut, oatmeal raisin, and oatmeal chocolate pecan!
Visit her at

Friday, October 14, 2011

CDF Anchorage Gluten-free Support Group Meeting

The Anchorage Gluten-free Support group meets next Thursday 10/20/2011
Please join us from 6-8pm at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Highway in the University Center. I will be bringing along some information and food products from the Gluten-free Living Now Expo!
For more information please feel free to e-mail me at
I look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Got food allergies?

Having to be on a gluten-free diet can be tough. If you're like me though, having multiple food allergies can be a daily struggle. When I was first diagnosed and my sisters went through testing, we discovered my older sister has an allergy to eggs as well. In my parents home, that eliminates 4 major food items. Soy is found in 60% of packaged food in the United States. That leaves 40% to be made with gluten, dairy, or soy. It has taken me (and my family) awhile to adopt to not only avoiding gluten but our other allergies.  That's why when I found Allergy Chefs, Inc., I was incredibly excited.
Joel and Mary Schaefer have 40 years of combined experience in the food industry  This website is a great resource for people with multiple allergies. They have mastered the technique of avoiding using the top 8 food allergens in their cooking. Not only are the recipes nutritious and well balanced, they are absolutely delicious as well!

 Check out their sweet potato pancakes. Of course, I substitute the soy milk with almond milk!

Interesting fact about Chef Joel? He specializes in culinary education and product development for food allergies and special diets was the Culinary Development and Special Dietary Needs Manager at Walt Disney World.  In that role, he spearheaded Disney World’s food allergy initiatives, ensuring that all of their restaurants could better accommodate food-allergic guests at the park.  Throughout his career, from Disney to his current position at Allergy Chefs, Chef Joel has made it his mission to educate the food service industry about food allergies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

517th Spouses Flight

     I may be a little biased, but I think my husband is the most amazing man in the world. Not only did he stick with me during such a trailing time in my illness but he decided I was worth keep and married me! ;) All kidding aside, I am proud to be his wife. Recently, he directed an event with his squadron that was a way of honoring all the wives.
     Every year the 517th squadron gathers all the wives together and gives them a ride in a C-17 and a really scenic tour of Alaska. This would normally cost thousands of dollars but the men volunteer their time and fill out paperwork that allows us to see a view of Alaska few have ever seen in person. This was my second year to take part in the experience.
     All the wives were asked to wear warm clothing, closed toed shoes, and their husbands green flight jackets. John had the idea to order the wives name tags so they could put them on the jacket and take pictures. It reminded me of being in High school when your wear your boyfriend's letter jacket so everyone knows who you're dating. I loved it! John even get me my own name tag. I must say that being Mrs. Wendler is probably the best title I have earned to date! ;)

The C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases around the world. It can also perform tactical airlift, medical evacuations, and airdrop missions. We all loaded up into the back of the plane and got ready for take off. The most amazing thing about a C-17 is that the back hatch can open in flight. This lends itself to some amazing views!

It gets a little chilly though when the back hatch so when they closed it we had the opportunity to wander around a little. The C-17 is 174 feet (53 m) long and has a wingspan of about 170 feet (52 m). It can airlift cargo fairly close to a battle area. The size and weight of U.S. mechanized firepower and equipment have grown in recent decades from increased air mobility requirements, particularly for large or heavy non-palletized outside cargo.

All the ladies were given the opportunity to visit the cockpit as well. The C-17 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines. Each engine is capable of fully reversing. The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,500 ft and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). In addition, the C-17 can operate from unpaved, unimproved runways. The thrust reversers can be used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways using a three- (or more) point turn.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and one I am sure many of us wives will cherish for a long time. I am so blessed to be married to such and amazing man and I cherish everyday we are together.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Recipe of the Month

As soon as the first day of fall arrived, my husband practically dove into our basement storage area to pull out the decorations. I have to admit, I like the way they look with our furniture but I still prefer summer if I had to pick a season. He even dragged me to the fall decorations in Target the last time we were there shopping. The picture to the left is a wonderful decoration my husband and I picked up at the Arctic Bazaar.
The next item that my husband always asks for is Pumpkin Muffins. When I made this back in Georgia, my little sister thought they were like manna from heaven. My mother, older sister, and I would be lucky if they last more than two days. I even caught her one time taking a bunch to school to stash them in her locker there! I can't blame her though - in our family, once you find something you like (and you're not allergic too) it goes quickly!

My sisters and I a few years ago in Georgia.
So, for October, the recipe I love is from Elana Amsterdam of Elana's Pantry I roast a small pumpkin to make this recipe and I just love the pumpkin smell! It reminds me of taking my sisters to the pumpkin patch to pick out our gourds for carving! Canned pumpkin works just as well though.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Muffins
1 ½ cups blanched almond flour (not Bob's Red Mill)
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ cup agave nectar
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh baked pumpkin (or winter squash), well packed 
  1. In a large bowl combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves
  2. In a mixer puree oil, agave, eggs and pumpkin until smooth
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry
  4. Place paper liners in muffin pan
  5. Scoop batter into paper liners
  6. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes
  7. Cool for 2-3 hours
  8. Serve - Makes 8 muffins

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gluten-free Oats offer

Can you tolerate gluten-free oats? It’s estimated that 4-8% of gluten-free consumers cannot tolerate gluten-free oats.
My friend, Debbie Wheaton of the Not Even a Crumb™ Foundation, found a company in Montana (Montana Gluten-Free Processors) that grows, harvests, mills and packages a different species of GF oats that are very low on the allergen scale (and consistently test out at 1 ppm). She started eating them a month ago - with NO issues. The company is getting similar testimonials from around the country. They, (Montana Gluten-Free Processors) have asked Debbie to facilitate a nationwide focus group to determine if this is truly the Holy Grail of gluten-free oats.

If you or anyone in your group has had issues with gluten-free oats, I would love them to be a part of this focus group. The Processors will send free product and specific protocols for the group and they’ll also do a huge giveaway at the end. Check out their site to see their entire line of amazing GF mixes

Monday, September 12, 2011

CDF Anchorage Gluten-free Support Group Meeting

The Anchorage Gluten-free Support group meets Thursday night 9/15/2011
Please join us from 6-8pm at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Highway in the University Center.
For more information please feel free to e-mail me at I look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrate National Celiac Awareness Day

The following post was stolen from a brillant Celiac with her own blog, Erin Smith. For the original copy and more of her amazing insight, visit:
Tomorrow is Celiac Awareness Day. In 2010, a resolution was passed in the U. S. Senate, making September 13 National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. 
How are you going to celebrate Celiac Awareness day?
Here is a list of ways to celebrate from the NFCA:

1. Share the Celiac Symptoms Checklist. Send the checklist to 10 friends. Odds are, at least one of them will have an “Aha!” moment and recognize the symptoms in a family member, neighbor or friend.

2. Play a role in research. The Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is looking for relatives of celiacs to test a new self-administered blood test. It’s your chance to finally convince your mother, brother, or another family member to take the test once and for all. (Update: Study has been filled. Thank you to all who signed up!)

3. Go for a run. Restoring health isn’t just about making the dietary switch to gluten-free; it’s also about embracing your new lease on life. I’ll be here when you get back.

4. Or, support a fellow Celiac while he runs. On September 24, Athlete for Awareness Peter Bronski will run 50 miles and scale 10,000 feet for the 2nd year in a row – all to raise money for NFCA. Donate to help him reach his goal.

5. Tell your doctor “Sorry” isn’t good enough. How many doctor appointments did you waste complaining of symptoms before you finally got diagnosed? End the cycle of misdiagnosis once and for all: Print the Celiac CME postcard from our website and urge your doctor to take NFCA’s free course on celiac disease.

6. Expand your dining options. If you know a restaurant that needs gluten-free training, now’s the time to act. Print the GREAT Kitchens information sheet from our website and bring it to the restaurant. As an incentive, tell the manager how many friends and support group members are just waiting to find a new gluten-free hot spot.

7. Be a part of something big. Sign's Letter to the FDA regarding the proposed gluten-free labeling rule. It’s one way to tell the FDA to keep moving and stop stalling when it comes to gluten-free safety.

8. Have a party. Bake some gluten-free cupcakes. Put out a bowl for donations. Voila! Instant Cupcake Party Fundraiser. (It’s really that easy.)

9. Head to class. Ask your child’s teacher if you can have a special Celiac Awareness Day at school. Read a celiac disease children’s book, then take questions from the kids. If your child’s school allows it, bring in gluten-free snacks for everyone to try. While you’re there, encourage the cafeteria staff to get gluten-free training through NFCA’s GREAT Schools program.

10. Sharpen your cooking skills. You never stop learning, so take advantage of NFCA’s library of free gluten-free cooking videos. The videos not only have step-by-step instructions, but also give you helpful tips, like how to sneak veggies into a dessert.

11. Make a new friend. If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter yet, get moving! The staff and I have met tons of new people through social media, and there’s sure to be a lot of exciting chats and activities for Celiac Awareness Day.

12. Try something GREAT. NFCA’s GREAT Business Association members are huge supporters of the celiac and gluten-free community. Encourage their continued involvement by picking up one of their products. (Make sure to tweet about it!)

13. Prepare future advocates. We’ve made incredible progress, but it’s up to our kids to keep that going. Teach them the joy of volunteering and advocacy by helping them contribute to Kids Central. They can sign up for the Letter Writing Fundraiser, share a gluten-free recipe, or submit a product review for kids.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September Recipe of the month

The end of August and the beginning of September marks the start of the Alaska State Fair. My husband and I attended last year and it was very rainy so we stayed inside and didn't stay very long. However, this year we were blessed with a very sunny day and had a wonderful experience. I ate some cotton candy and John had a green apple covered with caramel. I really w anted a corn dog because it is my favorite fair food. However, most of the vendors couldn't tell me what was in their mix so, to be safe, I refrained from eating fair food. However, I do have a handy recipe to make gluten-free corn dogs so, I thought I would share it!

Gluten-free Corn dogs

Serves 8
1 cup yellow corn meal
2/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I've used Bobs Red Mill with success!)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I use ricemilk or almond milk - add a little at a time until good consistency reached)
1 package of good quality hot dogs (such as Sabrett Skinless Beef Franks)
2 quarts of vegetable oil (for frying)
8 wooden popsicle sticks or skewers
1. Line a rimmed sheet tray or large plate with paper towels. Remove hot dogs from their package and dry completely with paper towels. Place a wooden stick into the length of each hot dog, leaving enough length at the end to use as a handle. Heat oil in a 10"-12" heavy pot over medium heat until temperature reaches 350°. You can also use a deep fryer if you have one.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk together egg and milk in the well and combine with dry ingredients, mixing until smooth.  Pour batter into a pint glass or other tall, skinny container, leaving a 1-inch space between the top of the batter and the rim of the glass.

3. Dip prepared hot dogs into batter, coating completely, and fry for 2–3 minutes, turning halfway through fry time, until deep golden brown on all sides. Drain corn dogs on prepared tray (either let the paper towels absorb the oil or put a wire rack over the paper towels). Repeat with remaining hot dogs.

Note: You can use up any leftover corndog mixture by frying up some corn fritters. Just drop tablespoons of remaining batter into the oil and fry 2-3 minutes, turning halfway, until puffed and golden. For an added kick, add 1 tbsp. chopped jalapeƱo plus 3 tbsp. grated cheddar to the leftover batter before frying.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grain options: you can eat much more an rice!

Since gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, some people may think that their carbohydrate options are very limited once they begin a gluten-free diet. However, there are a wide variety of gluten-free grains to choose from I have found that my carb options have expanded since I was diagnosed.  All are a good source of fiber and provide a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as have varying tastes, textures and culinary uses. Here is a list of gluten free grains that I use as my alternatives:

·         Quinoa (high in protein and fiber)
·         Millet
·         Amaranth (great source of fiber and protein)
·         Teff (iron and fiber source)
·         Wild rice (which is different from white and brown rice)
·         Sorghum (good source of iron and potassium)
·         Corn/polenta
·         Certified gluten-free oats [FYI - some Celiacs (4-8%) cannot tolerate them]
·         Buckwheat
·         Potato (sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, Vit A and Vit C)

This list is not comprehensive but may give you some options you hadn’t considered before. Please note that inherently gluten-free grains can become cross contaminated with gluten, so it's a good idea to purchase from manufacturers that incorporate safe practices to prevent contamination from happening. Bob’s Red Mill is an excellent vendor that is common in most grocery stores. They ELISA tests their grains to assure that they are free of cross-contamination.
Happy eating!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August Product of the month

Since Louisiana Chicken Pasta is my recipe of the month, I had to share the fabulous product that makes the tasty recipe casein-free! Being gluten-free is one thing but being allergic to soy and dairy as well, makes the challenge of living with Celiac Disease two times harder. So I was elated to find this product in the organic food store and I always have some of it on hand. My husband has grown to love my version of the Louisiana chicken pasta and requests it often.  The MimicCreme, along with the Manchego cheese that I use in place of the parmesan, gives this recipe the safety I need but the flavor we both love!

August Recipe of the month

Ever since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and my dairy and soy allergies, there are certain restaurants I miss eating at and certain dishes I am no longer able to eat. One of the restaurants I miss dining at is The Cheesecake Factory. My favorite dish there was the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. I was delighted to find a recipe that allows me to enjoy the dish with some minor substitutions.

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs ( I toast Udi's bread and crumble it for a quick
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I use Manchego sheep's cheese for a dairy-free substitution)
1 cup milk (I use almond or rice milk)
2 tablespoons flour ( I use Bob's Red Mill All-purpose gluten free flour)

Cajun Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter (Enjoy Life Soy-free)
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 small red onion, chopped
3 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/4 pints whipping cream (I use Mimiccreme for a dairy free substitution)
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese ( I use the Manchego here as well)
1 package bow-tie pasta(Tinkyada brown rice pasta)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add yellow and red bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion to same skillet and saute until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper to skillet and saute 2 or 3 minutes.
Then add whipping cream and chicken stock (for a thicker sauce - omit chicken stock). Simmer until sauce re-heats and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Add basil and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese to sauce, stirring to incorporate. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, simmer. Sauce will reduce and thicken.

Cook chicken:
Wash and drain chicken breasts. Pound until very thin, as thin or thinner then 1/4-inch thick (the thinner the chicken breasts the better).
Mix breadcrumbs, flour, and Parmesan cheese together. Place milk in dish for dipping. Dip chicken in breadcrumb mixture and then in milk and then back in breadcrumbs.
Place in fry pan that the oil has been heated and fry at medium high temperature until golden, crisp, and cooked through. Add more oil as needed. Remove and drain chicken. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook bow-tie pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain and return to pot. Add sauce and toss to coat.
Place pasta with sauce on plate, and top with chicken breast. Serve, passing additional Parmesan separately.